Figure skating news - Kihira smashes world record in Grand Prix final
Japan teen prodigy Rika Kihira stunned even herself with a world-record breaking routine to surge into the lead in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating final.
The 16-year-old’s Clair de Lune short program routine saw her nail a triple axel and set a stunning new personal best of 82.51, a world leading effort.
Kihira outshone reigning Olympic champion Alina Zagitova in Vancouver and was delighted to establish a 4.58-point lead ahead of tomorrow’s free skate.
"I was extremely surprised when I saw that score, because it was not a score that I would have imagined would ever come up," she said.
"For the free program, my goal is to land all my jumps cleanly and I will do my best to ensure it. I don’t want to have any other regrets.
"Now that I’ve received such a score in the short, I need to complete my free successfully as well. That’s all I would like to focus on for now."
Zagitova’s Phantom of the Opera, featuring a triple flip, saw her register 77.93 points and the Russian remains in the hunt to defend her ISU Grand Prix Final crown.
Her compatriot Elizaveta Tuktamysheva finished third.
Just as Kihira cleaned up at the last Grand Prix event in Grenoble, Internationaux de France men’s champion Nathan Chen continued his fine form with early success in Vancouver.
The reigning world champion managed to clock a season’s best 92.99 points but still cursed an error on a quad toe late in his Caravan routine.
"Clearly I made the big mistake at the end of the program - something that I could totally have avoided, it's just a little bit of a slip," he said.
"But I'm glad I'm getting experience, I'm doing the program throughout the season and making mistakes like this so I can keep learning."
Japan’s Shoma Uno is hot on Chen’s heels in second place and Michal Brezina ranks third heading into Sunday’s finale.